Difference between revisions of "Śapatha"

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In the ancient days, when a king could not decide whether a person brought before him as guilty was really guilty or not, due to lack of direct or circumstantial evidence, he could take to two methods:
 
In the ancient days, when a king could not decide whether a person brought before him as guilty was really guilty or not, due to lack of direct or circumstantial evidence, he could take to two methods:
# Divya - divine proof through ordeals
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# [[Divya]] - divine proof through ordeals
 
# Śapatha - oath
 
# Śapatha - oath
  
A śapatha is actually an oath taken by the accused to prove his innocence. Instances of śapathas are found in the Ṛgveda,<ref>Ṛgveda 7.104.15, 16</ref> the epics<ref>Mahābhārata, Anuśāsanaparva 95.13-35</ref> and the smṛtis. For example, Vasiṣṭha when accused, declares in the Rgveda<ref>Rgveda 7.104.15, 16</ref><blockquote>‘If I am a yātudhāna,<ref>Yātudhāna means sorcerer.</ref> may I die this very day!’</blockquote>  
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A śapatha is actually an oath taken by the accused to prove his innocence. Instances of śapathas are found in the [[Ṛgveda]],<ref>[[Ṛgveda]] 7.104.15, 16</ref> the epics<ref>Mahā[[bhārata]], Anuśāsanaparva 95.13-35</ref> and the smṛtis. For example, [[Vasiṣṭha]] when accused, declares in the [[Rgveda]]<ref>[[Rgveda]] 7.104.15, 16</ref><blockquote>‘If I am a [[yātudhāna]],<ref>[[Yātudhāna]] means sorcerer.</ref> may I die this very day!’</blockquote>  
  
 
This is a śapatha. The king in such cases of śapathas had to wait for a week or the stipulated period, whichever is less, to know the results.
 
This is a śapatha. The king in such cases of śapathas had to wait for a week or the stipulated period, whichever is less, to know the results.
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==References==
 
==References==
 
{{reflist}}
 
{{reflist}}
* The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore
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* The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram [[Krishna]] Math, Bangalore
  
 
[[Category:Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism]]
 
[[Category:Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism]]

Latest revision as of 14:37, 19 December 2016

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sapatha, Zapatha, shapatha


Śapatha literally means ‘special oath’.

In the ancient days, when a king could not decide whether a person brought before him as guilty was really guilty or not, due to lack of direct or circumstantial evidence, he could take to two methods:

  1. Divya - divine proof through ordeals
  2. Śapatha - oath
A śapatha is actually an oath taken by the accused to prove his innocence. Instances of śapathas are found in the Ṛgveda,[1] the epics[2] and the smṛtis. For example, Vasiṣṭha when accused, declares in the Rgveda[3]
‘If I am a yātudhāna,[4] may I die this very day!’

This is a śapatha. The king in such cases of śapathas had to wait for a week or the stipulated period, whichever is less, to know the results.


References

  1. Ṛgveda 7.104.15, 16
  2. Mahābhārata, Anuśāsanaparva 95.13-35
  3. Rgveda 7.104.15, 16
  4. Yātudhāna means sorcerer.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore